How Will a DWI Affect My Immigration Status?

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DWI and Immigration

The consequences of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are numerous. If you are not a citizen, you may wonder how a DWI conviction might affect your immigration status. Whether you have a green card or a non-immigrant visa, a DWI can affect your immigration status. As a result, your visa or permanent resident status could be revoked.

In certain cases, a criminal conviction for DWI may result in deportation proceedings. This is true, especially in cases where you fail to leave the country after the revocation of your visa. You may also face deportation if your DWI involves another offense, such as murder or drug crimes. These crimes may lead to inadmissibility or permanent bars from the United States (U.S.).

A DWI conviction can have adverse effects on your immigration status. It is essential to seek legal advice if you are facing deportation or other immigration issues as a result of a DWI conviction.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we can help you understand the potential consequences of your conviction and advise you of your options.

How Does a DWI Affect Your Green Card?

After filing for an adjustment of status, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will notify you of your biometrics appointment. At the appointment, they will take your fingerprints and photo to confirm your identity. They will also use this information to conduct background and criminal checks.

The USCIS will discover the DWI on your criminal record during the criminal check. This may prove that you lack good moral character and affect your green card application. You may be denied your green card if you commit a DWI felony that involves intoxicated manslaughter, or your green card may be revoked if you already hold one.

It is generally not a good idea to lie to the USCIS about your DWI conviction. Providing false information to the USCIS when submitting your green card application is grounds for inadmissibility. They may deny your application if they discover that you provided false information.

How Does a DWI Affect Your Citizenship Application?

You must demonstrate good moral character for at least five years before applying for citizenship. You may find it hard to meet these requirements if you have a DWI on your record. However, if you wait a few years after your DWI or obey court instructions, you may be able to restore your moral character.

What Types of DWIs Lead to Deportation?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a simple DWI will not trigger deportation. But, when combined with certain crimes, it becomes a deportable offense. You may become deportable if your DWI falls under one of the following:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude

  • Aggravated felonies

  • Violent offenses and theft

  • Gun and drug crimes

Immigrants arrested for drunk driving are at a higher risk of deportation. There is a possibility that their cases will be transferred for removal proceedings, and they may need to appear before an immigration court. Some immigration waivers or reliefs, however, may save you from deportation.

The USCIS may revoke your visa or bar you from renewing your visa, which makes you ineligible to file an adjustment of status application. An aggravated felony DWI can also prevent you from canceling your removal.

DWI and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)

Intoxicated driving may become a crime of moral turpitude if certain factors are present. CIMT involves depraved or immoral acts in violation of the basic duties owed to fellow citizens. It is done with criminal intent and is considered a serious crime under immigration law.

CIMT has a broad definition, and your DWI may fall into this category at the discretion of the immigration judge. Your DWI may become a CIMT under the following circumstances:

  • DWI causing murder or bodily injury to someone

  • DWI without a driver’s license

  • DWI using a prohibited weapon or firearm

  • DWI with a minor in your vehicle

  • DWI in possession of large amounts of controlled substances

  • DWI as a drug addict

  • DWI involving violent and offensive acts

DWI and Inadmissibility

A DWI conviction may lead to inadmissibility in the following ways:

  • Multiple criminal convictions: Two or more DWI convictions with a total sentence of five years or more results in inadmissibility.

  • Drug trafficking: If the police find you with a large quantity of drugs during a DWI investigation, they may charge you with drug trafficking. An immigration officer may find you inadmissible if they believe you are involved in illicit drug trafficking.

  • Crimes of moral turpitude: Crimes that involve moral turpitude result in inadmissibility.

  • Drug abuse or addiction: If a civil surgeon considers you a drug addict, it could trigger inadmissibility on medical grounds.

  • Crimes involving controlled substances: A controlled substance violation is a ground for inadmissibility. You may be inadmissible if your DWI conviction involves intoxication by a prohibited drug.

Why Should You Contact an Immigration Lawyer?

Are you facing a DWI conviction in Texas? Have you been charged with a felony DWI? Then, consulting a qualified immigration attorney is crucial. Every DWI case is different depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Without knowledge of DWI laws, you may not understand the effects of a DWI on your immigration status.

In Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we understand the impact criminal charges have on your legal status. Therefore, we will fight to prevent you from getting convicted of a DWI or DUI. We can help you mount a strong defense.

Contact our law office today if you are facing DWI charges in Texas.